VisitDallas Names Sam Coats Interim CEO



DALLAS, May 9, 2019 – VisitDallas today appointed former airline executive and veteran business and civic leader, Sam Coats, as the organization's Interim CEO.

Coats has had a highly diverse career within the airlines industry, as a corporate turnaround specialist, lawyer, public servant, and civic leader. He has served as CEO of six different companies, including two airlines, Schlotzsky's, Inc., and the world's leading provider of revenue optimization software systems for the global airline industry. He served in senior management positions at four airlines, including Braniff, Southwest and Continental.  Coats is also a former board chairman of the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"Sam's expertise in the travel and airline industries, civic service and as a corporate leader make him uniquely suited to lead VisitDallas during this critical transition period," said Mark Woelffer, VisitDallas board chair. "He has a demonstrated ability to act as a stabilizer during times of change, which will serve VisitDallas well as we enter a new chapter for the organization with new leadership.  VisitDallas is in good hands while we work to continue to achieve great results for Dallas and identify the organization's new leader." 

Coats will participate and assist in the formal search process for VisitDallas' next Chief Executive Officer.  A search committee has already been appointed and will be led by incoming Board Chair for VisitDallas, Joyce Williams. 

"It is an enormous privilege to work alongside VisitDallas, its amazing staff and its partners, who have some of the most impressive tourism expertise in the nation," said Coats. "I look forward to continuing to work to ensure that VisitDallas has the full trust and confidence of the City of Dallas, its elected officials and its citizens as it continues to make Dallas one of the top convention and visitor destinations in the nation."

"VisitDallas has been successful in promoting Dallas as the premier destination for meetings, conventions, sporting events and leisure travel. Dallas is the top destination in Texas for meetings and events, and number six in the country," said Joyce Williams, VisitDallas incoming board chair. "I am confident that Sam's expertise will help build on the great momentum already underway at VisitDallas."

Coats has served on numerous boards and has been a frequent speaker on corporate governance issues. He is immediate past chair of the board of the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Board where he served for seven years. He is also on the board of the Dallas Holocaust Museum, and the advisory board of the DFW Area Salvation Army. He has also served on the boards of Texas Industries, Inc., the Valley International Airport in Harlingen, Texas, and Safety-Kleen, Inc.  

Coats also has a long history of civic leadership in Dallas. He has served as a state representative in the Texas Legislature representing Dallas County and chairman of the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce. In 2007 he was a candidate for mayor of Dallas. In 2006 he helped negotiate the phase out of the Wright Amendment, which had restricted airline service from Love Field for more than thirty years.

Coats will serve as Interim CEO of VisitDallas until a new full-time chief executive officer is hired by the organization's board of directors.


About VisitDallas

VisitDallas markets Dallas as the ideal visitor and convention destination in Texas. Dallas – The Most Texan City in Texas – celebrates its heritage in hospitality, and it's the one city where Southern meets modern and legacy meets luxury. Dallas is the leading business and financial center in the Southwest offering travelers an unparalleled array of amenities and a central location with two major airports with more domestic nonstop flights than any other U.S. city. As the ninth-largest U.S. city, and part of the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the nation, Dallas is the top visitor destination in Texas. You really can do it all in Dallas. For more information, visit




Frank Librio
Chief Marketing Officer